February 14, 2008
Valentine's Day Rallies In Beirut
It was raining today in Beirut, and rival factions in Lebanon gathered on the streets of the country's capital to mourn their slain leaders.
In Martyr's Square, at the heart of the pristine, rebuilt center of Beirut, tens of thousands of March 14th supporters chanted and held up placards in honor of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, assassinated this day three years ago.
Meanwhile, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, there was a sea of umbrellas as Hezbollahs supporters showed their own strength in numbers on the day of the funeral of an accused terrorist mastermind who was killed in a car bomb in Damascus earlier this week.
There are many intertwined fault lines in Lebanon today.
One clash opposes the pro-Western, Siniora government against the pro-Syrian Shiite Hezbollah faction. This has has caused a seemingly intractable deadlock on the election of a Lebanese president and heightened sectarian tensions.
Another dangerous threat to Lebanon's stability: extremist Sunni forces, that came to the world's attention last June in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr El-Bared. They battled the Lebanese army for weeks and are suspected of planting roadside bombs targetting U.N. peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon.
And finally, the possibility of another Hezbollah-Israel war seems closer today than even a few days ago. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to avenge the death of Imad Mughniyeh and has blamed Israel for his killing. Israel denies any involvement.
Why the country has not yet descended into chaos may be down to the factional leaders, who are still in command of their followers. They may not see that it is in anyone's interest for another internicine conflict in Lebanon.
But what happens if the country's youth let their frustrations boil over?
What do you think of the events in Lebanon? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or add a comment below.
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